This weekend, the national media focus will be on the September 11 events at Ground Zero in New York City, as well as those commemorations being held in other parts of the country. While these memorials with their attendant partisan controversies and out-pouring of patriotism will hold most people's attention, a number of forward-thinking intellectuals, artists and politicians will be gathering in New York on Sunday and Monday, not only to remember the tragedy of 9/11 but also to celebrate America's future as integral part of the world community. They will be participating in the ninth annual observance of Interdependence Day.
Never heard of it? Neither had I. But it turns out Interdependence Day, celebrated every year on September 12th, is attracting an ever-growing international following. I found out about it when I met Benjamin Barber, a well-known political theorist and author, at a literary gathering earlier this week. Barber, a frequent liberal commentator on television (and Huffington Post blogger), is the leader of the Interdependence Movement, which advocates, to put it simply: looking at the BIG picture. Barber is not alone in telling us that most of the economic, social, and ecological problems our nation is grappling with are global issues. But he is one of the few pundits to come up with an active, utilitarian strategy, forging what he calls a network of citizens without borders to advocate for democratic, multilateral solutions.
I could not agree with Barber more. The tide of militant isolationism and ultra-nationalism gripping parts of our country is not going to help lift us out of our present morass.
The Interdependence Movement, which is supported by the think tank, Demos, is sponsoring a two-day symposium in New York City, "America in an Interdependent World Ten Years After 9/11,"on Sunday and Monday. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean (founder of Democracy for America), television host, Tavis Smiley, former Lt. Governor of Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Princeton University professor, Cornel West, David M. Steiner, former New York commissioner of education, Anthony W. Marx, president of the New York Public Library, filmmakers Josh Fox (director of Gasland) and Tiffany Shlain (founder of the Webby Awards and the Moxie Institute), and famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, will be among those speaking or moderating.
Think of it as an alternative way of commemorating that terrible morning ten years ago and helping build a world where such violent tactics become unthinkable.
On Sunday, the symposium will be held at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center and on Monday, downtown at the "3-Legged Dog Art & Technology Center. The public is invited to attend by registering on the Interdependence Movement site: http://www.interdependencemovement.org/iday-2011.php